"Thank You" by Izzie DerryReview
Inspired by the artistic paradigm shift of Izzie Derry, I'm going to challenge the format of my review & start with a comment on the artwork. Obviously, I've always thought "music first, artwork later" out of respect for the musicians, but since the photo you can see here was taken by her Dad Simon & because in truth, we tend to see the art before we even play the record & so it sets up expectations, I hope she doesn't mind.
And what does the artwork for "Thank You" (out today) signal to you? Well it's startling isn't it? As with "Wasted Love" and "Try", it's certainly sending the message that she has evolved into a more "I'm not taking this nonsense any more" sort of writer, though the red stained knife raises the stakes considerably. Perhaps it's staining from the strawberries on the cake? Or maybe she's just finished using it on someone & now fancies a slice of gateaux? Or maybe she wants us to stop considering her as a potential doormat & realise that she has the potential to express her feelings emphatically.
As noted on those previous singles, Izzie is stripping off any veneers of false softness that people may have read into her earlier work & articulating her deepest feelings: if she feels pissed off, she'll say so more explicitly & not leave it to chance that you'll decode it via more implicit lyrics of disappointment.
So that's where one's expectations might be going before one hits the "play" button & hey: the new no-nonsense-straight-to-the-point Izzie pretty much delivers on that. The song is about moving on in her life & making people know damn straight that if she's not happy with their behaviour then she wants them to know & if that's a shock to people who judged her differently in the past, then that's their failure of understanding her. As always, her own words are the best articulation: "Thank You" is about…. "finding my voice and using it. I used to be quiet and take whatever negativity people threw at me, but as I've grown older I've realised that I don't have to do that. I've become more confident in myself and realised that as long as I'm happy with what I'm doing, it doesn't matter if everyone else is. It's my life not theirs".
Bold & cathartic (I hope), the song itself sounds what it needs to be: in your face enough so you listen to what she's saying (the arrangement is a group one, like many on the forthcoming album, but it's tasteful & restrained) and building gradually to reflect a simmering pot of resentment being finally expressed: at its peak it's really impressive in its rage: not something one found in Izzie Derry songs until recently.
I can't remember so much heavy sarcasm permeating her work either (people are going to have to make big adjustments in how they see her: which is precisely what she's demanding that you do). Guess what? The "Thank You" of the title is meant with much irony. People seem to have been bombarding her with "..so sage advice…" (presumably their perspective not Izzie's) but now she sees their words as just "poison, poison, poison, poison..". That's not an ambiguous lyric nor message is it?
Equally, she understands their motives & the psychological failings which cause them to behave in that way towards her ("..did it help your complex, make you feel like a god?") but no more. Not only is she calling out what she doesn't appreciate being done towards her, but she is laying into those doing it. I am certain that Izzie has come to this place entirely on her own journey, but her acerbic songs of 2023 now inhabit the same lyrical territory as Hannah Woof in some ways.
If I say something along the lines of "Izzie has evolved & I like it" and nothing more, then it's a bit patronising: I'm conscious that she's reacting against many people's prior expectations and that must include mine. These are songs of frustration as well as liberation & necessary in part because of our failures to understand or appreciate her effectively. Well, she's correcting that with vigour now. Tori Amos famously wrote "Me and a Gun". Well Izzie Derry has gone for the knife option. And it's damn sharp.